Delaware preps more 1B vaccination events
With a glimmer of hope that the federal government will increase COVID-19 vaccine allotments soon, Delaware officials are forging ahead with efforts to vaccinate thousands of residents for the first time while also drawing back on plans to offer the second dose.
Gov. John Carney announced Jan. 26 that White House COVID-19 Task Force coordinator Jeff Zients promised each state there would be a 16% increase in vaccine allotments, or between 2,500 to 3,000 doses, over the next three weeks. Each shot is coveted, as the state has about 200,000 people in Phase 1B, which covers residents ages 65 and older as well as essential workers.
“This is the challenge that we have: We’ve got more people that want the vaccine with not enough vaccine to go around,” Carney said during a Jan. 26 virtual town hall. “We have plenty of pharmacies, primary care physicians, hospitals and our own [partnerships] that can get thousands more doses [administered]. The physicians and the pharmacies want more of it. We’re just not getting it right now.”
Delaware received about 18,000 doses the week of Jan. 25, and 82,699 shots have been administered as of Jan. 27. Some members of Phase 1A, which includes health care workers, emergency services personnel and long-term care workers, have already received their second shot.
But with a tight supply of vaccine, the Delaware Division of Public Health (DPH) is now prioritizing getting the first shots in arms of people classified in Phase 1B rather than focusing on the second round of shots for Phase 1A. The state had about 2,956 doses left in the DPH warehouse as of Jan. 27.
“These vaccines are 50% to 80% protective against getting infected, but they’re even more protective against death and hospitalizations. That we know from science,” DPH Director Dr. Karyl Rattay said. “What we’re trying to do is make the most of the vaccine to offer the most protection we can for Delawareans.”
A second dose of either vaccine raises their effectiveness rate to about 95%. Both Pfizer and Moderna shots should be administered within 21 to 28 days after the first dose. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently updated guidance to recommend people get their second dose up to six weeks after the first shot if they are not able to get it in the recommended time frame.
As supply allows, the state will prioritize second doses for 1A individuals at greatest risk of exposure to COVID-19, Rattay said.
To keep vaccinating as many residents as possible, DPH and the Delaware Emergency Management Agency (DEMA) is partnering with Curative Inc. and Vault Health to host vaccination events throughout the state. Curative, the state’s contracted COVID-19 testing partner, vaccinated an expected 750 people at the end of January. Vaulted hosted a vaccination event specifically for low-income seniors. Invitations were extended through organizations like Metropolitan Wilmington Urban League, the Latin American Community Center, REACH Riverside, and the Delaware Legislative Black Caucus.
The state is expected to host more mass drive-thru vaccination events for those who have pre-registered for a vaccine. Earlier attempts have resulted in seniors waiting in cars for hours, some turning away before receiving the shot, according to the News Journal. Those delays were caused by people arriving without an appointment and technology issues due to the cold weather, according to DPH.
In the coming weeks and months, Carney said that the state will start to rely more on pharmacies and primary care physicians to get the vaccine out. At this point, it’s estimated that 300 providers, including speciality care, are registered to administer shots. Other providers like Walgreens, Rite Aid, Walmart, Aspira Health and Camden Pharmacy, have started to offer the vaccine on an appointment basis.
The Delaware Department of Education also started pre-registration for educators and school staff on Jan. 26 for vaccination events. These events are open only to those who work in public and private K-12 schools as well as district early childhood education centers. Childcare provider vaccination events are being planned in early February.
To register for a vaccine appointment, visit vaccinerequest.delaware.gov. Delawareans without computer access can call the COVID-19 Vaccine Call Center at 1-833-643-1715, and a call center operator will assist them with making the initial request.
If you have signed up for an appointment, wait for an email to confirm your appointment. The state will be sending invites to upcoming events to applicants who’ve registered through the state’s system.